For the record, I’m not divorced, nor have I ever been. But I have been single for most of my life, until last year when I got married for the first time at the age of 51.
So what does a newly married, never-been-divorced person know about divorce? Other than experiencing my own parents’ divorce as an 8-year-old only child, absolutely nothing.
But I do know a thing or two about being single, and being on your own.
And that’s why I’m writing this for HuffPost Divorce — because I feel I have something to say to those entering singledom.
I learned a lot on my 51-year journey as a single woman. Life lessons I gleaned in the happiest of times, and in the darkest days. Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And I did. Whether it was navigating the world alone as an only child, or healing my heart from painful breakups, I kept going.
Being on your own isn’t always easy, but it does show you what you’re made of.
The following isn’t dating advice; it’s practical wisdom and survival tips that came in very handy for me when I was single, and continue to come in handy for me even as a married person. The wisdom isn’t revolutionary, but it never gets old.
Hopefully as you navigate your own journey through single life (or just life in general), these tips will come in handy for you too.
Know Your Worth
Having a sense of your own value is what self-worth is all about. It’s your principles, character, attributes and personal power. Knowing your worth protects you from being taken advantage of, becoming a victim or compromising yourself, especially in relationships.
Raise Your Bar
Once you know your worth, you can start aiming higher — personally, professionally and romantically. If you know you deserve better, then don’t be afraid to ask for it. Demand it. Especially when it comes to love. Don’t settle for less. Raise your bar and watch the quality of your life improve.
Heal Your Wounds
In order to move forward, you’ve got to take a few steps back. Who hurt you? What’s the source of your pain? What past action or event gave you emotional scar tissue today? Don’t take old wounds, grief or anger into your future. Do whatever it takes to heal them now and be free.
Learn From Your Mistakes
No one’s perfect; we’re all human and make mistakes — I’ve made plenty. The key is to apply your newfound wisdom to becoming a better person, parent, partner, whatever. Fucking up isn’t the worst thing in the world — repeating your fuck-ups is.
Set Your Boudaries
Being single can make you feel very vulnerable, and that’s exactly why you need to advocate for yourself — especially when it comes to dating and sex. Setting healthy boundaries can mean saying no, speaking up, standing up, or removing yourself from toxic situations and people.
Find Your Passion
The quickest way to take the edge off being single is to get busy. Ask yourself what you love, then pursue it with a passion. Engage, expand and explore your horizons. You’ll create new interests, new relationships and who knows? You may become a more interesting person too.
Be Alone With Yourself
While it’s important to stay busy, it’s also important to know how to be alone without freaking out. Get comfortable in your skin; enjoy your own company; and make time for quality alone time. Learn to savor stillness and you’ll never be lonely again.
Temper Your Expectations
Having goals is great, but having unrealistic expectations can set you up for disappointment and defeat. Deepak Chopra describes this as “detaching from the outcome.” Stay open to the possibilities, and make peace with the present. You can have aspirations, just be careful of expectations.
Count Your Blessings
It’s the hardest thing to do when you’re feeling shitty, but taking stock of what you have, instead of what’s missing, speeds up the healing process. Dig deep and find some gratitude every day (“I’m grateful for my family, friends, clients, job, health,” etc.) You’ll feel a shift and a lift.
It doesn’t matter if you’re newly divorced or single forever. What matters is finding what works to keep you sane, strong, happy and healthy. Like I said, being single isn’t always easy, but should you find yourself going through hell, just remember to keep going. It’s a worthy journey.
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